Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Messages such as Are You Game? and Bang are scrawled in glow-in-the-dark graffiti on the black-lit walls of one of Indoor Tactical Sports' paintball and airsoft fields. The two-story facility, which declares itself the only indoor paintball arena in Houston, is air-conditioned to a crisp 65 degrees and houses a total of four fields where players can shoot at their friends with no-cleanup Reball paintball pellets or BBs from Airsoft guns. To ensure fair play, one referee for every 10 players patrols the fields and prevents participants from shooting their opponents in vulnerable spots, such as the working screenplay they carry around. In the gear shop, players can rent all the gear necessary to play, including guns, masks, ammunition, and air canisters. Visitors can also buy equipment or bring in personal guns and gear for repairs.
Beyond Twice Told Tales’ glass door, the faint, musty scent of yellowed pages dog-eared from years of careful reading wafts through the noses and alerts the brain of impending knowledge or story immersion. Thousands of used books line the shelves, their spines declaring the titles of the mystery, science fiction, horror, and drama their stories chronicle. As used titles arrive daily, it’s not uncommon for stacks of books to pile high on the floors. The racks looming over these text mountains display a collection of audiobooks—books that can play MP3 files—and reading accessories such as lights and book covers. Besides fiction, reference materials such as CliffsNotes and informative nonfiction books also contribute to the mass of reading material tucked away in every nook and cranny of Twice Told Tales’ shop.
At her newly opened pastry shop, Candace Chang draws from her worldwide travels to invent internationally inspired desserts that balance flavorful ingredients and low sugar content. Imported goodies such as Belgian chocolate, French chestnuts, and Taiwanese coconut blend to form delicately molded pastries, each topped with fresh fruit arranged in colorful patterns or the buyer's family tartan. The colorful cake gallery also offers dairy-free options and lighter nibbles, ranging from tofu-based cheesecake to fluffy mousse. Dolce Delights pairs its sweets with Lavazza coffee imported from Italy.
In more than 1,112 stores worldwide, Edible Arrangements' Fruit Experts arrange pieces of premium fruit in stunning displays for all occasions. Customers can customize their order to suit any occasion, receiving chocolate-dipped fruit such as pineapples, granny-smith apples, and juicy strawberries that, unlike the sodas found in most mummies' crypts, don't contain any preservatives. Fruit Experts can dip fruit in gourmet semisweet or white chocolate. For birthdays and anniversaries, chocolate wielders can personalize bouquets with gifts such as plush teddy bears and mylar balloons.